Carina Cockburn, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) country representative for T&T, is using the Tamana Technology and Animation Production factory (TTAP) as just one example of T&T developing a successful industry within the services sector.
“This is a commercial animation studio, established at the University of T&T (UTT) with support from IDB Lab. The TTAP factory leverages local talent developed right here in T&T through UTT’s Bachelor in Fine Arts programme that offers specialisation in animation, music technology and game arts. The TTAP Factory was originally set up to support small animation studios to take advantage of a fast-growing animation industry, which was valued at US$394 billion in 2022 and is projected to grow to US$528 Billion in 2030,” she said.
Last week Monday, Cockburn gave these facts during her feature address at the launch of the T&T Coalition of Services Industries’ (TTCSI) ‘Doing Business With the World Series’ held at the Government Campus Plaza, Port-of-Spain.
She added that the IDB is pleased to see that given the marketing of T&T’s investment in animation training, as well as the work of their technical lead, Camille Abrahams, the founder of Anime Caribe, the TTAP Factory itself has successfully entered into a number of contracts for the delivery of animation services to studios in the Philippines and North America.
“TTAP’s work has created contract opportunities for animation graduates to engage in the export of services, and from all indications, the sector is poised to further accelerate and grow.”
She said the IDB is working with the Ministry of Digital Transformation to develop mechanisms to support the work of local software developers and engage with digital firms in T&T. Enabling mechanisms for digital firms include ensuring that:
a. Knowledge and technology transfer is taking place;
b. There is digital talent;
c. Digital infrastructure is in place;
d. Firms recognise the importance of long-term investment in innovation i.e. research and development (R&D);
e. Firms can access risk capital
f. A digitally friendly regulatory and institutional environment is promoted including the use of instruments such as regulatory sandboxes to support a safe environment for prototyping, testing, proving, and demonstrating solutions and applications; and
g. And BSOs, incubators, and accelerators have the technical expertise to support the growth of digital business models.
She added that support of this nature for companies in T&T that are innovating is currently available under the IDB Lab and the European Union-financed ‘Shaping the Future of Innovation’ programme. That is being executed by Cariri and firms can compete for financing under the programme which is now about to announce its third call for applications.
“Many of the successful applicants to date have centered their proposals on the use of technology to drive service delivery, expand markets and accelerate growth and I would encourage all innovating service companies to apply.
“Also, again with support from IDB Lab, technology-driven companies across the region can participate in a specialised business acceleration programme delivered by DMZ, a global leader in this space, through our partners at Tech Beach,” said Cockburn.
She also said to ensure T&T is ready to expand its trade in services, programmes such as Going Global which will work with services firms to ensure that they are trained and ready for the market are essential.
“So, I applaud TTCSI and its partners such as the Ministry of Trade and Industry for the work you are doing in this area, as well as on data collection and joint marketing. In addition, building local capacity extends beyond skills development to finalising local quality standards such as those related to the labelling of goods, the circular economy, refrigeration and air conditioning, and Good Governance of Organisations, to name just a few.”
Cockburn also gave statistics on where T&T and the rest of the Caribbean region lie in the sphere of innovation.
“One might ask where Caribbean economies fall in the Global Innovation Index. Jamaica comes in at number 76 and T&T at number 101. The main services exporters in the Caribbean are Jamaica, The Bahamas, and Antigua and Barbuda with a contribution of services to GDP of 20 per cent, 23 per cent, and 48 per cent respectively. Of course, much of this is due to tourism.”
She gave tips on how T&T could advance its services sector.
“First, supply chain logistics and connectivity could be strengthened. Connectivity, both physical and via digital infrastructure, remains important to a country’s competitiveness in the services sector. In terms of logistics, while there are a number of active ports serving the manufacturing and oil and gas sectors, T&T’s capacity and resources would have to significantly increase to scale up the provision of transportation and logistics services. Initiatives such as the PPP soon to be tendered for the Port of Port-of-Spain will assist as will the implementation of a Port Community System (PCS).”
Cockburn also said the PCS will provide the interoperability between the trade and logistics systems that is currently the missing link to close the communication loop and optimise the digital trade facilitation architecture in T&T.
“By centralising data and streamlining workflows, a PCS stimulates collaboration, improves logistics’ efficiencies, and helps reduce the time, cost and complexity of port operations. It also improves traceability and transparency in the supply chain contributing to the control of cargo at ports of entry.”
She concluded by saying that T&T still has much to offer the world in terms of its creativity and capacity for innovation in various fields and the services sector is no different.
“Rest assured that the IDB, and indeed other development partners, will continue to collaborate to support these advances. Congratulations once again to the TTCSI executive and management for the excellent work that they continue to deliver towards building the services sector,” Cockburn said.